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July 10, 2011

How Murdoch’s Australian papers stay mum over “Hackgate”

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:55 pm

Richard Lance Keeble finds many of Murdoch’s Australian newspapers strangely coy about covering the News of the World hacking scandal

The countless twists and turns of the News of the World “Hackgate” may be clogging up the pages of mainstream press in this country, but over in Australia, where Rupert Murdoch owns a vast share of the newspaper industry, many newspapers have remained strangely mum on the scandal.

A survey by the excellent current affairs website Crikey ( of eight daily outlets owned by News Limited (the Australian branch of Murdoch’s News Corporation) reveals that only the Herald Sun and the Australian covered the story. In the case of the Herald Sun, the report was buried on page 32 and ran to just 28 words:

A private detective working for the News of the World allegedly hacked into the mobile phone of a missing girl, a lawyer for the murdered child’s parents claimed.

The Australian carried an Associated Press report on page 11 and followed up with detailed coverage of the highly critical editorial of the London Times (also owned by Murdoch) but the scandal got no mention on the Daily Telegraph, the NT News, the Advertiser, the Courier-Mail, The Mercury and the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Rather intriguingly, these dailies did carry reports on someone hacking into Fox News’ Twitter account and tweeting lies about the death of Barack Obama.

Last year, the editor of the Victoria-based Herald Sun (Australia’s biggest-selling daily), Bruce Guthrie, revealed in his book Man Bites Murdoch (Melbourne University Publishing), how overt censorship inside News Limited was rarely necessary, since “yes-men” were only too happy to internalise their master’s voice in their day-to-day operations.
“Their first thought is what will Rupert think of this, whether it’s a story, whether it’s a decision to launch a new section…whether it’s a leader on election eve…it’s almost instinctive second-guessing the boss and it flows from there, so you second-guess Rupert and you second-guess John Hartigan [the CEO of News Limited] and you second-guess the corporate partners…and once you’ve cleared all those hurdles, you go for the story.”
He continued: “Within the News empire, talent is one thing but absolute dedication to Murdoch’s world view and various causes is another. And it’s far more important than talent. The most highly regarded people at News are little more than Murdoch robots, programmed to consider him first and the issue second.”

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